County health officials prepare in-depth plan to combat an unexpected COVID-19 virus outbreak

A focus on testing - along with beefing up the number of contact tracers - are two ways the Malheur County Health Department plans to meet a sudden surge in COVID-19 virus cases. (The Enterprise/File).

ONTARIO – Malheur County health officials are keeping a wary eye on the rising number of local COVID-19 cases and on a nearby county, where cases of the respiratory illness surged last week, as they craft a blueprint to meet a sudden, local outbreak.

 “I would say we’d rather be overprepared than underprepared,” said Sarah Poe, Malheur County Health Department director.

Cases of the novel coronavirus exploded in Union County – north of Malheur County – last week when more than 200 people attending a local church were infected.

“It is a caution flag for us, to see very quickly you could have this . . .